It’s May 1st, 2020, and I feel like I’m in a creative rut. I’ve been quarantined at my parent’s farm in Missouri for the past six weeks, which is just a little bit like culture shock from the way my life looked a few weeks before that, when I was living in New York City, doing photoshoots every day, hosting my art gallery show, and staying busy cultivating my craft. Due to COVID-19, quarantine, and social distancing, I can’t go out and do shoots, my weddings have been cancelled, and music festivals are all postponed, which is a pretty big bummer considering those were my summer plans.
But it’s time to recalibrate! I’ve been playing with the idea for a few years now to do a photo challenge for a month. The goal is to create one photo each day for the entire month. It sounds daunting, right? I tried it for approximately three days a few years ago, only to realize I wasn’t ready to dedicate time to such an intense project. But here we are in 2020, and I suddenly have a lot of free time on my hands, so I thought, let’s give it a try. I’m going to be doing self portraits every single day during the month of May 2020, and I have a lot of ideas already! Wish me luck, let’s go!
Day 1: Pink Cellophane
I found this pink bag laying around my house, and I wanted to see what I could come up with! I set up a white sheet and took pictures with my trigger attached to my camera. In Photoshop, I overlayed the bag shots with the portrait shots to get this effect! I absolutely love how they turned out.
Day 2: Living Room Fashion Shoot
I set this up in my living room. I wanted the sunhat to cover my eyes a bit, and when I did the edit in Photoshop I added blues to the shadows to give it a fashion feel. Blue isn’t usually my go-to color, so it was fun to play with a new tonality.
Day 3: Yeehaw
I used a pink gel on the left light to get the pink edge for this shot. My original idea was for a champagne and mimosas shot with hard flash, but while I was shooting inspiration struck and I came up with this. I’m obsessed!
Day 4: Pineapple
Today was a test in Photoshop. I shot this on a white background and took a bunch of those pineapple shots. Then I Photoshopped the whole thing together. It took almost two hours, but I love how it turned out! Shout out to my parents for buying that pineapple!
Day 5: Pink Wonderland
This is probably my favorite shot from the entire series. It took FOREVER to Photoshop, but it was totally worth it. I took the picture out in a field at my parent’s farm and then added tons of layers to create a pink wonderland! And yes, this is what the inside of my brain looks like.
Day 6: Glitter Lips
I had seen versions of this done many times, so I wanted to finally give it a go. This tasted terrible but I love how the tones turned out. And I love all things glitter and sparkles, so I’m happy with it!
Day 7: Butterflies
I got these butterflies from a craft store in college and had done a photoshoot with my roommate years ago with them. When I was cleaning out my closet, I found them and thought they would be fun for a whimsical self portrait. The oranges are super saturated and I love how I’m looking off into the distance.
Day 8: Rainy Day
This one is probably my least favorite shot of the series. I had wanted to do an outdoor shoot, but then it started raining all day, so I decided to pivot and try an outdoor rainy shot. Blues and greens aren’t my go-to tones, so maybe that’s why I don’t like it as much as the pink shots.
Day 9: When life gives you lemons…
I had about 4 minutes to take this picture today, so cutting up a lemon seemed like a good option. This is a simple and cutesy portrait, but I like how minimal it is. Sometimes the best portraits don’t have to be overly complicated.
Day 10: Sunglasses
Today I wanted to make a GIF! I was feeling sassy so the pink fur coat went on and I planned to use the sunglasses as something that could be changing in every frame. I love the end result! Check out how it turned out right here.
Day 11: Green Grass
This was made from pink streamers that I got for $3 on Amazon. I spread them around on the ground and did a downward angle shot. I love how the pink “grass” gives it a magical feel.
Day 12: Flower Power!
We saw these yellow flowers on the side of the road, so I made Justin stop so we could take a picture. I added the yellow squiggles for an accent, and I think it’s cute.
Day 13: Cupcakes!
I stopped by Sweetology and got this delicious cupcake in St. Louis, so I thought it would be fun to use it as a prop for the photo. I tried a bunch of different angles and didn’t love it, until I switched it up and did some shots from the side. Pink, playful, and sweets is my go-to, so it felt like this shot was in line with my brand.
Day 14: Balloons!
I saw an inspiration idea for this on Pinterest, so today I thought it would be fun to try it out. I had Justin take a simple shot of me outside holding my arm up, and then later in Procreate I added the balloons. Lots of my portraits this series have dealt with illusions, whimsy, and fantasy themes, so I liked this addition.
Day 15: Reverse Self Portrait
I needed a new idea today but I didn’t have anything concrete. When I was in the studio, I had the random idea to turn the other way and take a few frames that way. I only took two shots, but they came out awesome and I knew I could work with it. I added the squiggles in Procreate to give a little more line color (my new favorite thing to do) and ta-da!
Day 16: Collage
This was fun to make and not too complicated in Photoshop. I found a bunch of textures I liked and layered them, cutting around the shape of me for each one. It feels like a digital scrapbook page, which I love. And of course the pink tones are my favorite too.
Day 17: Evie and I
I guess this Procreate swoosh is becoming my signature lately! I was in Chicago today taking some family photos for a friend, and I was shooting all day long, so I knew I would have to incorporate today’s shot there or I wouldn’t have any natural light to play with. I got Evie to pose with me, and it’s so darn cute that I had to use it as today’s picture.
Day 18: Bubbles
BUBBLES. I used Evie’s bubble machine for this shot, and I do not regret it, lol. For the video of the bubbles, check it out here.
Day 19: Stereoscopic Photos!
A stereoscopic photo is one where the same scene is photographed 3-4 times, with a slightly varying perspective. When you put the images together, the end result is an image that appears to be shaking or moving slightly. I’ve been interested in these images for awhile, and today felt like a good day to try it out! Shout out to Justin for helping me shoot this, because it was a little bit complicated to get correct. Check it out here!
Day 20: A Gaby Collage
Adding movement and motion to images has been the theme this week! I did the same collage thing as earlier iin the challenge, but this time I made it move. Personally I think the motion version of this is way cooler, so click here to see it!
Day 21: Pink Brain
I have been seeing some cool collage work on Instagram, and wanted to explore the visual concept of having a bunch of stuff coming out of my brain. This took a few hours in Photoshop to do, but worth it! Here are a few of my favorite things (and the only thing I forgot to include is a Taylor Swift reference!)
Day 22: Beach Day Baby
Summer is finally here! I saw an image like this online and wanted to recreate it. I asked for Justin’s help to shoot this. He stood on our diving board and shot at a downward angle (my tripod wasn’t tall enough for me to shoot this without a person holding it up). All I had to do was Photoshop a few cracks in the concrete and it was done! This is one of my top favorites from May so far.
Day 23: Angel Wings
I wish I had wings in real life but this is cool too! I added them in Procreate after taking the photo. I had seen a lot of people doing this with PicsArt so I wanted to give it a try. Now I’m thinking about all the other stuff I can add on in future photos..
Day 24: Pool Party
Shout out to my brother Ethan for getting the drone out for this shot! I envisioned a minimalist photo with just me on the pool floatie. I had been waiting all week to do this shot, because it had been raining, and because I knew we were having a pool party on Saturday and I would be in my swimsuit anyway! The weather was perfect and the shot turned out cool. Definitely interested in doing more with the drone soon.
Day 25: Pink Ghost
I created this by using a long exposure and a pink gel on the left side. I didn’t really know what I was going for today. I was kind of just exploring, and it turned into a happy accident. The reason my right hand looks so weird is because it was holding the trigger to take the shot and I thought the image was more zoomed in, but it was wider than I thought. So when I Photoshopped the image, I took the trigger out because it was a little distracting. I love the airy quality of this shot.
Day 26: Glitter Please!
It felt like a good time to start covering all my photos in glitter and sparkles, hehe. I’m getting so close to being done with the May Photo Challenge, the weather is warming up, and life is good. It felt like a good day to celebrate.
Day 27: Paint Splash Overlay
Again, I was just messing around in my studio and I thew a pink backdrop up behind me, because I love pink. Later, in Photoshop, I overlayed this shot with paint swooshes and then changed the blend mode so they’d make me look more pink. I don’t really know the concept for this, but I thought it was visually interesting, so it became the photo for today.
Day 28: Spiral Gaby
Today got a little swirly! Josie Sanders did a shot like this at a gas station on Instagram where she added the swirls to her photo, so I tried a pink version of that and I’m absolutely obsessed with how cute it turned out. I’m sure I’ll be adding it to a lot more of my future photos.
Day 29: Gold Glitter Galore
I was itching to shoot something fun today, so at the last minute I went into the craft room and found a container of gold glitter and poured it on my face and took some shots. Then I layered a close up shot under the portrait of me to add some depth. I love the tonality the shot ended up with.
Day 30: The Pink Universe
This shot came together surprisingly quickly. I took two shots of me walking away outside, and had the idea to change out the background to add some interest. It only took a few minutes to Photoshop, and the pink clouds worked perfectly with my sweater. Another favorite from this series, and I really just stumbled into it.
Day 31: An Artist’s Portrait
Yay, the final day! I wanted to do a stripped down artist portrait for the final day, but of course with a pink twist. This is definitely more of how I look every day versus some of the more dramatic shots in this series. I love this shot because it feels like an honest capture of me as a creator and artist.
And now, a few bonuses, because I got so hyped that I accidentally made a few extra! Here are some outtakes and explorations I worked on throughout the month that didn’t quite make it into the series. As you can see, I played a lot with adding lines in Procreate. It’s been awesome to get to explore with multiple mediums, and try so many new ideas!
I started this project a month ago because I felt constrained from quarantine. I hated that I couldn’t be out shooting portraits like I normally am. This felt like a way to prioritize being creative and creating something new every single day. I was a little worried at the beginning that by doing it every day, some of the shots were going to be terrible or uninspired, but I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the quality of the images I created this month. I feel like it was because I put a lot of effort into planning and conceptualizing shoots consistently.
Surprisingly, these are some of my favorite photos I’ve taken lately, self portrait or not. So many of them were ideas for shoots I had been saying for a long time that I was going to try “when I had more time” and this month gave me the chance to execute on them. So for all my creatives out there, I would highly recommend you spend one month trying a creative project like this, whatever medium it is. It’s been an awesome experience and I feel so revitalized and rejuvenated with photography! I know I’ll definitely be spending more time in the future on more self portraits like this, because I still have so many ideas I didn’t even get to yet!
All my images from this series are on my Instagram, along with other content I’ve been creating lately and video tutorials. Head over to YouTube to check out my Gaby Answers Questions series, and for my full photography portfolio, you can go to my website to see lots more sparkly and fun imagery. Lastly, for more content like this, subscribe to my email newsletter! Every few months, I send out latest projects I’ve been working on, photo tips, and inspiration images. If you have any questions about any of the above photos, or any photography questions in general, email me at email@example.com. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my May Photo Challenge!